Pro-choice march draws hundreds to downtown Knoxville


(Note: This story was updated at 11 p.m. July 5, 2022)

Hundreds of thousands of people in cities across the United States have gathered for protests since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and Knoxville has been no different.

On Saturday, a crowd of at least 300 people gathered downtown for an abortion rights rally and march.

The following photo essay was assembled by Jenna Stambaugh.

Hundreds of protesters gathered at Market Square in downtown Knoxville on Saturday afternoon to protest the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

Event organizers went over safety guidelines for the march and introduced speakers who then addressed the crowd with an American Sign Language interpreter available to translate for the deaf and hearing impaired.

“Silent I stand here before you as the silence swells; and I whisper quietly I’ll see you in hell.” The closing stanza of a poem about bodily autonomy and abortion drew a thunderous roar of approval from the crowd.

Protesters left Market Square to march the sidewalks of downtown Knoxville while chanting, “Not the church, not the state, women must decide our fate!” as well as “Pro-life your names a lie, you don’t care if woman die!” and “My body, my choice!” 
Protester Kelsea Andrews attended the rally to show her support for abortion rights while exercising her right to be armed in public. Her rifle drew a lot of attention from fellow protesters, who were split between those who felt safer in her presence and those who didn’t.

Marchers stopped by the fountains in Krutch Park to cool off. One counter protester (right) wearing a hoodie, mask, and Batman hat attempted to give bottled water to the protesters, prompting shouts of “Don’t take water from shady people!” One of the marchers named Patrick (who requested his last name not be used) claimed that he saw the counter protester putting sticks, grass, and rocks into the water. “First, he was trying to give it to people to drink. When no one would take it, he was throwing it at people. He was weaponizing water,” he stated. “I also saw him knocking over protesters that were riding on scooters.”

Violence erupted briefly in front of First Baptist Church on Main Street. One of the marchers allegedly punched the Batman hat-wearing man after he continued to harass and assault protesters, numerous witnesses said. Officers from the Knoxville Police Department separated the man from the rest of the crowd but he wasn’t arrested or cited.

Protesters marching through the downtown area.

Abortion rights activists in the Knoxville area say that they are determined to keep fighting for women to regain their reproductive rights. Protests also occurred in Johnson City, Maryville, and Rogersville over the holiday weekend. More protests are planned in Knoxville today and tomorrow at 11 a.m. and next Saturday at 5 p.m. 

Jennifer Stambaugh can be reached at

Published on July 5, 2022.